Wednesday, April 7, 2010

HERE'S JACKIE!: Police Story

Police Story
Director: Jackie Chan
Year 1985

Well everyone, it's Jackie Chan's birthday today and in honor of him turning 56, I've got two reviews of the first two entries in his acclaimed Police Story Saga. The first film is Police Story and what an entrance into this kick-ass series of films.

Jackie plays a Hong-Kong cop named Chan Ka Kui, who gets his first big bust during the opening action packed scene that takes place in a shanty town on the side of a hill. A drug lord and his gang are having a meeting at this shady location and the Hong-Kong police bust up the party with a hail of gunfire.

The location for the action packed beginning.
This town's about to get wrecked.

The shootouts are fierce during this opening set piece and there are dramatic moments at every turn. There's even a rookie cop that proceeds to piss his pants once he's shot upon by the gangsters. Jackie proves to be every bit as daring and charismatic as he was in his previous roles like in his period piece Project A, the heart felt drama Heart of Dragon, and his underrated US effort The Protector. Everyone of these films are masterpieces in their own rights, but none of them had the balls to the wall gritty reality of Police Story. Jackie went a darker route for this film, though in his own unique way he infused so much comedy into the scenes between the action that he really made a movie in the true Jackie Chan style. The films a hybrid and displays the trademark execution of Jackie Chan's stunts, fighting, and comedy.

Jackie Chan as he gets ready to bust a cap in someone's ass.

There are so many stunts in this film that really helped cement his status as a true action star. The entire film plays out like a highlight reel as he drives a car through the shanty town causing explosions that engulf the small village to his strenuous ride on the back of a double decker bus as he clings on with only an umbrella. These scenes are all amazing and Jackie keeps the editing to a minimum and really lets us marvel in his reckless abandon as he puts his very life in harms way.

The cheap way to ride the bus.
Jackie just pay for a ticket you cheap ass.

There's also another scene that was mostly more dangerous for his stuntmen then for him, but the scene is so great and really establishes Chan's character in the film as a tough as nails cop. Jackie stares down an oncoming bus as it barrels towards him with the mob bosses' henchmen in the driver's seat. Jackie fires one shot in the air and then aims for the driver. The driver chickens out and slams on the breaks, sending him and another thug to flying out through the window and crashing to the pavement below. Now, this stunt was supposed to have the two stuntmen, who fly through the windshield, land on a car that rested just behind Jackie. The bus accidently stops short of its marker and instead of the stuntmen landing on a pre collapsable stunt car, the two crash to the pavement landing on their heads. Their heads for christ sake! Needless to say the scene looks cool, but at the expense of some sore noggins. That is just how cool the Jackie Chan stunt team is. They take so much abuse and so many falls that you really don't believe that these guys are human.

Jackie, the Man, stares down the oncoming bus.

I mentioned the comedy aspects of this film earlier and that is one of the main interesting things about a Jackie Chan film. He loves to bring comedy into every story that he is telling no matter if it's a dark crime thriller or a fantasy epic. He was greatly influenced by the comedic stylings of Buster Keaton and he often brings that flavor into his films as a way to pay homage to an actor he looked up to. From his first directorial debut, The Fearless Hyena, he has brought that sense of fun and creativity that has been imbedded in every film that he has made since.

Look out it's the ghost of Jackie!

The main part of the story is that Jackie has attempted to put away a major crime lord, but because of the man's influence, he is able to get off scott free and vows to make Jackie's life a living hell. A former employee of the crime boss is a witness to some of his shady dealings and Jackie is assigned to watch over her and protect her until the trial can begin. This leads to a lot of difficult moments as Jackie tries to balance his life as a cop and his life as a good boyfriend with entertaining effect. This is where a lot of the comedic moments come into play, as he struggles to keep both sides happy all the while fighting off the never ending string of attackers trying to take the witness out.

This fight scene is so bad-ass, that I
can only show you this one screenshot.

His girlfriend May, played by the spectacular Maggie Cheung, does an excellent job of playing the lonely girl that is always forgotten by our main character as he is called to duty. She plays out her comedic parts with great effect and she even gets down and dirty towards the end of the film as she's booted down a flight of stairs, not only once but twice. This was her first film with Jackie, but they will work together again in a number of films including Project A2, Police Story 2, Twin Dragons, and Supercop. Her career outside of the Jackie Chan realm is also quite impressive as she has some rememberable and remarkable roles in The Iceman Cometh, Days of Being Wild, In the Mood For Love, Hero, and 2046. Maggie makes this role her own in Police Story and she returns as her character May in the next two films of the series.

Jackie got the base model that didn't include breaks.

The movie really heats up when Jackie is framed by the crime boss of killing a fellow police officer. Jackie must use some drastic measures to prove his innocence and this is the time that we really see him as a loose cannon, a sight that we will see often throughout the Police Story series. The intensity in his eyes in some of these scenes is like watching a wild man as he prepares to blow his top at the slightest sign of danger. He truly is crazy in these scenes and I love it.

Go Jackie go, you crazy son of a bitch!

Jackie's crazy antics leads him to a neon filled multiple storied mall where he battles the mob boss and his minions all for the delight of the audience. There are so many frantic scenes of ass kicking at this location that it confounds the mind. Jackie is put through such punishment and gives out an equal share, that it really is exhausting to see all who were involved put their bodies on the line. No one was spared like in a hollywood production. All the actors were their own stuntman and they went all out in their attempt at putting something worth while on the screen and the results are amazing.

Let the ass kicking begin!

You feel every hit as a man's body is flung into the air, performing a full 360 degree spin, until he is finally and violently sent crashing to the floor or through a pain of glass. This is what hardcore asian action is all about and Jackie and his team bring it in spades. The agility that Jackie displays at age 31 is outstanding. I found it almost impossible to capture an action shot of this guy when I went to collect my screen grabs. He is one quick little bastard and this film showcases his abilities in the greatest of light. Go Jackie go!

This movie is like a kick to the head.
Ask this poor sap and he'll tell you the same thing.

The finale converges into one last glorious stunt that literally is electric in its execution. Jackie, crouched on a railing six stories high and out of his bat shit crazy mind, jumps onto a metal pole and plummets the entire height of the mall crashing down through strings of christmas lights as they proceed to shock the living hell out of him. This stunt is so impressive that they decide to show it a number of times from different angles and if you watch the behind the scenes videos of this stunt, Jackie really did get electrocuted during his entire descent. He absolutely does put his whole self into this movie and you can't help but commend the guy for going all out as this living legend defies death before our very eyes.

Jesus Jackie, there had to be a better
way to get to the ground floor of the mall.

Of course the film concludes with the mob boss getting an ass beating of a lifetime at the hands of an enraged Jackie. Jackie is so out of control in this last scene that you could have sworn that they just gave the man some speed and was just let loose. God help anyone who gets in Jackie's way when he's in this wild state and damned if this isn't the most entertaining end to a Jackie Chan film that I've ever seen. The man knows how to make an exit. All in all, this movie delivers the goods from beginning to end.

How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?!?!

Jackie Chan has directed a violent asian cinema masterpiece of gargantuan proportions. The fact that he directed, starred, and performed his own insane stunts in this film makes him that much more of a creditable filmmaker. The film soars with every action set piece and entertains with every comedic performance, never leaving the viewer wishing he was watching something else. Police Story is so much fun to view and is such a rip roaring good time that you really appreciate all that Jackie has put into his ever expanding list of highly acclaimed films and everything that he has dedicated his life too, all in the name of cinema. You must watch this if you have any love for the great Hong-Kong action films of this era or just want to see what a Jackie Chan film was like at the apex of his ability. This is a must watch.

5 out of 5 stars     A Balls to the Wall Asian Action Film By the Legendary Jackie Chan!

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